FOIA, Medieval English Literature, US Civil War Diary, More: Thursday Buzz, February 1, 2018


From Russ Kick of AltGov2: FOIA Land. “This is an ongoing project to collect the FOIA request logs for every U.S. federal agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Related material, including internal FOIA processing guides, Mandatory Declassification Review request logs, and Vaughn indexes will also be posted. This project will also include a smattering of material covering cities, states, and other countries. The idea is to see, as much as possible, what documents agencies possess, what documents they’ve released, and how agencies process documents for release (or not).” Not a whole heck of a lot here yet.

British Library: Discovering our medieval literature. “Bringing together over 50 unique medieval manuscripts and early print editions from the 8th to 16th centuries, Discovering Literature: Medieval presents a new way to explore some of the earliest works and most influential figures of English literature. From the first complete translation of the Bible in the English language to the first work authored by a woman in English, the website showcases many rarities and ‘firsts’ in the history of English literature.”

William & Mary: Library receives diary of soldier imprisoned at William & Mary during Civil War. “On a cold, rainy day in May 1862, a young Union soldier, Henry Alexander Scandrett, would experience his first battle. Unfortunately it would be a losing battle. His regiment, the 70th New York, joined the attack on Confederate lines at Fort Magruder, an earthen redoubt two miles east of Williamsburg. The regiment saw heavy action; 350 men were killed or wounded. A small group of survivors, including Scandrett, were taken as prisoners of war and held at William & Mary.” William & Mary has digitized the diary and put it online.


Business Insider: Google aims to get ‘diverse perspectives’ into search results. “Alphabet Inc’s Google will put more of a premium on ‘diverse perspectives’ in its search results, saying in a blog post on Tuesday that answers highlighted at the top of result pages would soon display multiple viewpoints on topics for the first time ever.”

TechCrunch: Google is launching a new digital store to sell cloud-based software. “Google is launching a digital store that will offer cloud-based software to companies and other organizations. Bloomberg, which reported the news a bit earlier, notes the move is just the juggernaut’s latest effort to ensure that cloud leaders, and specifically Amazon Web Services, don’t leave the company in the dust.”


MakeUseOf: The 7 Best RSS Readers in the Windows Store. “RSS feeds remain one of the best ways to receive news headlines and exciting articles from your favorite sites. It’s especially true when you’re working on a desktop computer. Yes, you will find plenty of RSS readers for Android and iOS, but the 20-year-old technology really comes into its own when you’re using a full-screen app on a large monitor.”


The National: Falconry Research Project: database by UAE researchers shows ubiquity of predatory bird. “From whimsical 19th century Japanese drawings to 4,000-year-old Mongolian rock art, Dutch chess pieces and Qajar tableware from Iran, the history of man’s relation to the falcon is one of the oldest recorded love stories. It is even carried in your pocket, on the country’s currency. A research project by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) aims to bring the ubiquity of falconry imagery and its globalism to the fore with the Falconry Research Project, a database of global falconry imagery through the centuries.”

New York Times: Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business. “Ads are the lifeblood of the internet, the source of funding for just about everything you read, watch and hear online. The digital ad business is in many ways a miracle machine — it corrals and transforms latent attention into real money that pays for many truly useful inventions, from search to instant translation to video hosting to global mapping. But the online ad machine is also a vast, opaque and dizzyingly complex contraption with underappreciated capacity for misuse — one that collects and constantly profiles data about our behavior, creates incentives to monetize our most private desires, and frequently unleashes loopholes that the shadiest of people are only too happy to exploit.”

Tubefilter: TBS Launches Web Series Based On An Instagram Account. “Turner-owned cable channel TBS has recently adopted a forward-thinking approach to content, and as part of that effort, it has launched a new series based off an Instagram account. Mo Welch is the primary creative force behind Blair, a series of short vignettes centered around the life of a modern misanthrope.”


Make Tech Easier: Top 10 Internet Scams You Should Know and Avoid in 2018. “You must have heard about internet scams or could have even fallen victim once before. You’re not alone. Losses from online frauds are 19 times more than offline scams. The trend is growing and means we must be careful about how we use the internet. Let’s explore ten notorious internet scams you might encounter and how to avoid them.” A decent roundup without the hyperbole. Indonesia traffickers sold crocs, pythons on social media: police. “A group of suspected animal traffickers have been arrested in Indonesia for selling crocodiles, pythons and other protected species through Facebook and the messaging service WhatsApp, police said Wednesday. The case is the latest example of how social media has become a key online market place for animal traffickers as conservationists warn that tech giants have not done enough to halt the trade on their platforms.”


MIT Technology Review: Algorithms are making American inequality worse. “In Automating Inequality, author Virginia Eubanks argues that the poor are the testing ground for new technology that increases inequality. The book, out this week, starts with a history of American poorhouses, which dotted the landscape starting in the 1660s and were around into the 20th century. From there, Eubanks catalogues how the poor have been treated over the last hundred years, before coming to today’s system of social services that increasingly relies on algorithms.” Good morning, Internet…

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